46 P.3d 94 (N.M. 2002), 27,067, City of Albuquerque v. One (1) 1984 White Chevy Ut., VIN 1G8CS18BXE8176575, New Mexico License No. 335-KRH

Docket Nº:27,067.
Citation:46 P.3d 94, 132 N.M. 187, 2002 -NMSC- 14
Opinion Judge:[11] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Franchini, Justice.
Party Name:CITY OF ALBUQUERQUE, ex rel. Albuquerque Police Department, Petitioner-Appellant, v. ONE (1) 1984 WHITE CHEVY UT., VIN 1G8CS18BXE8176575, NEW MEXICO LICENSE No. 335-KRH, One (1) 1992 Red Dodge Pick Up, VIN 1B7KE26Z2NS646602, New Mexico License No. 389-LBB, One (1) White 1974 Ford Van, VIN E37BHT24734, New Mexico License No. 855-BPZ, and One (1) 198
Attorney:City of Albuquerque, Stanley D. Harada, Albuquerque, NM, for Appellant., Smith Law Offices, Jack A. Smith, Albuquerque, NM, for Appellee Rumaldo Lujan., Phyllis H. Subin, Chief Public Defender, Thomas DeMartino, Assistant Public Defender Albuquerque, NM, Robert E. Tangora, L.L.C., Robert E. Tango...
Case Date:April 24, 2002
Court:Supreme Court of New Mexico
 
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Page 94

46 P.3d 94 (N.M. 2002)

132 N.M. 187, 2002 -NMSC- 14

CITY OF ALBUQUERQUE, ex rel. Albuquerque Police Department, Petitioner-Appellant,

v.

ONE (1) 1984 WHITE CHEVY UT., VIN 1G8CS18BXE8176575, NEW MEXICO LICENSE No. 335-KRH, One (1) 1992 Red Dodge Pick Up, VIN 1B7KE26Z2NS646602, New Mexico License No. 389-LBB, One (1) White 1974 Ford Van, VIN E37BHT24734, New Mexico License No. 855-BPZ, and One (1) 1982 White Datsun 720, VIN JN6MD06S6CW119958, New Mexico License No. 392-LNS, Defendants,

and

Rumaldo Lujan, Lucy Kowalchuk, Frank Bolagh, and Paula Viera, Claimants-Appellees.

No. 27,067.

Supreme Court of New Mexico

April 24, 2002.

Page 95

[132 N.M. 188] City of Albuquerque, Stanley D. Harada, Albuquerque, NM, for Appellant.

Smith Law Offices, Jack A. Smith, Albuquerque, NM, for Appellee Rumaldo Lujan.

Phyllis H. Subin, Chief Public Defender, Thomas DeMartino, Assistant Public Defender Albuquerque, NM, Robert E. Tangora, L.L.C., Robert E. Tangora, Santa Fe, NM, for Amicus Curiae New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.

Thomas DeMartino, Albuquerque, NM, for Amicus Curiae New Mexico Public Defender Department.

OPINION

FRANCHINI, Justice.

{1} This case arises under an ordinance (Ordinance) enacted by the City of Albuquerque to obtain civil forfeiture of motor vehicles from those motorists who drive after having had their licenses revoked for convictions for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or who have been arrested for a third or subsequent DWI offense after having two previous convictions for DWI. See Albuquerque, N.M., Code of Ordinances ch. 7, art. 6, §§ 7-6-1 to -6 (1992, as amended through 1997, prior to 1999 and 2000 amendments). The City appeals the dismissals in district court of its forfeiture actions brought under the Ordinance; the district court judges, relying upon State v. Nunez, 2000 -NMSC- 013, 129 N.M. 63, 2 P.3d 264, had dismissed the complaints on double jeopardy grounds. The City filed appeals of the dismissals with the Court of Appeals, which consolidated the cases and then certified the matter to this Court under NMSA 1978, § 34-5-14(C)(1), (2) (1972) and Rule 12-606 NMRA 2002.

{2} The question certified to us, and the only issue on appeal, is "whether New Mexico's constitutional and statutory double jeopardy provisions preclude the City's pursuit of DWI-related civil forfeiture actions after the completion of criminal proceedings." Because we determine that the purpose of the Ordinance is remedial, we hold that State ex rel. Schwartz v. Kennedy, 120 N.M. 619, 904 P.2d 1044 (1995), is the controlling law in this matter. We conclude that the Ordinance does not violate the Double Jeopardy Clauses of the United States and New Mexico Constitutions or the statutory double jeopardy provision. See U.S. Const. amend. V; N.M. Const. art. II, § 15; NMSA 1978, § 30-1-10 (1963). We therefore reverse and remand for the cases to be reinstated on their respective district court dockets.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

{3} The driver's licenses of the Claimants were revoked because of previous DWI convictions; all the Claimants have multiple previous DWI arrests and convictions. The Claimants had been stopped by the police for traffic violations, and, in the course of their investigations, the officers learned of the revoked licenses. Each of the Claimants was arrested for driving on a revoked license under either NMSA 1978, § 66-8-122(G) (1985)

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[132 N.M. 189] or NMSA 1978, § 66-5-39(A) (1993), and also charged with other traffic offenses.

{4} After the Claimants were convicted in the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court of criminal charges, the City attorney filed civil forfeiture actions in district court under the Ordinance. The Claimants then moved to dismiss the separate forfeiture actions. In every case, the district court dismissed the City's complaint based on the determination that forfeiture of the vehicles under the City Ordinance would violate double jeopardy by punishing twice for the same offense.

II. DISCUSSION.

A. Standard of Review.

{5} When there are no disputed material facts, an appellate court reviews all issues on appeal under a de novo standard of review. State v. Reyes-Arreola, 1999 -NMCA- 086, ¶ 5, 127 N.M. 528, 984 P.2d 775. "A strong presumption of constitutionality surrounds a statute." Ortiz v. Taxation & Revenue Dep't, 1998 -NMCA- 027, ¶ 5, 124 N.M. 677, 954 P.2d 109. A party challenging the constitutionality of a statute has the burden of proving it is unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt. City of Farmington v. Fawcett, 114 N.M. 537, 540, 843 P.2d 839, 852 (Ct.App.1992). " 'In construing a particular statute, a reviewing court's central concern is to determine and give effect to the intent of the [L]egislature.' " N.M. Dep't of Health v. Compton, 2001 -NMSC- 032, ¶ 18, 131 N.M. 204, 34 P.3d 593(quoting State ex rel. Klineline v. Blackhurst, 106 N.M. 732, 735, 749 P.2d 1111, 1114 (1988)).

{6} The purpose of the Ordinance, as described in the findings section, is to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Albuquerque by abating motor vehicle nuisances. See Albuquerque Ordinance, § 7-6-1. The City enacted the Ordinance in response to the substantial problems in the community caused by those who drive under the influence of liquor or drugs and thus create the potential for serious injury and loss of life to innocent citizens. Id. The City found that allowing access to motor vehicles to these types of drivers increased the likelihood that they will repeat the offense. Id. The motor vehicles used by those drivers were found to constitute a nuisance to the general public and to be dangerous to the health and safety of the general public. Id. Under the Ordinance, a motor vehicle that has been declared a nuisance is subject to forfeiture. See § 7-6-2. Once a judicial order for forfeiture has been entered, the motor vehicle is sold and the proceeds used to carry out the Ordinance. See § 7-6-5(E). Any proceeds that exceed the costs of administering the Ordinance must be used for DWI prevention and education. Id.

B. Double Jeopardy.

{7} The Claimants argued, and the district court agreed, that the forfeiture of their motor vehicles would constitute double jeopardy. The Double Jeopardy Clauses of the United States and New Mexico Constitutions protect a criminal defendant from both successive prosecution and multiple punishments based on successive criminal prosecutions. North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 717, 89 S.Ct. 2072, 23 L.Ed.2d 656 (1969); Kennedy, 120 N.M. at 625-26, 904 P.2d at 1050-51. "The Clause protects only against the imposition of multiple criminal punishments for the same offense and then only when such occurs in successive proceedings." Hudson v. United States, 522 U.S. 93, 99, 118 S.Ct. 488, 139 L.Ed.2d 450 (1997) (citations and emphasis omitted). "[A] legislature 'may impose both a criminal and a civil sanction in respect to the same act or omission' without violating the Double Jeopardy Clause." Kennedy, 120 N.M. at 628, 904 P.2d at 1053 (quoting Helvering v. Mitchell, 303 U.S. 391, 399, 58 S.Ct. 630, 82 L.Ed. 917 (1938)). "[A] criminal adjudication followed by a civil forfeiture, or vice versa, violates double jeopardy only if the forfeiture constitutes 'punishment.' " City of Pine Springs v. One 1992 Harley Davidson, 555 N.W.2d 749, 750 (Minn.Ct.App.1996).

{8} Both the City and the Claimants 1 agree that the three-part test this Court articulated in Kennedy is the appropriate

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[132 N.M. 190] standard for analyzing their competing claims. In Kennedy, this Court was asked to resolve the question of "whether double jeopardy prohibits the State from subjecting an accused drunk driver to both an administrative driver's license revocation proceeding and a criminal prosecution." Kennedy, 120 N.M. at 623, 904 P.2d at 1048. We analyzed the question using the following standard:

Multiple punishment analysis ... entails three factors: (1) whether the State subjected the defendant to separate proceedings; (2) whether the conduct precipitating the separate proceedings consisted of one offense or two offenses; and (3) whether the penalties in each of the proceedings may be considered "punishment" for the purposes of the Double Jeopardy Clause.

Kennedy, 120 N.M. at 626, 904 P.2d at 1051. We concluded that double jeopardy was not implicated because the administrative driver's license revocation was a remedial measure and...

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